Ultimate Guide to Playing Football
Played and loved by more than two hundred millions of people scattered across more than two hundred countries, football is the most popular and most played sports of all times. Exciting and dynamic, this ninety-minute adventure drives millions of people to the edge of sanity.
Worldwide championships, tournaments, and of course the UEFA Champions League each year cause “great migration” towards gigantic stadiums which can hold up to hundred thousand of fans. There, the atmosphere “rises to boiling temperatures”, until the trophy is in the hands of the best team!
If you are unfamiliar with this sport, no worries, we`ve gathered the most important information. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Basic Football Rules
Football is not only one of the most popular sports but it is also one of the oldest in the world. This sport also goes by the name soccer and as you probably know it, it`s a team sport played with a spherical ball played between two teams each composed of 11 players (one goalkeeper and 10 players). The game itself is played on a rectangular field which is roughly 120 yards long and 75 yards wide.
A single match is divided into two halves each 45 minutes long with a 15 minute rest period in between. The goal of this game is to score more goals than the opponent or to beat the goalkeeper who guards the frame which is 8 feet high and 8 yards wide.
Any part of the body can be used to score the goals except hands/arms/or shoulders. Furthermore, the field must be made of natural or artificial grass and must be marked with a rectangular shape according to the proper measurements of the field`s dimensions, two six-yard boxes and two 18 yard boxes from the goal (the frame) itself, a center circle, and a 12-yard penalty spot.
Additional Rules in Soccer Game:
- Besides the regular 11 players, each team must have 7 more substitute players. Per a single match, there is a maximum of three substitutions available per side.
- While each game is played its fairness and rules are implemented by one main referee and two assistant referee`s. Commonly, besides these three referee`s there are additional cameras which are constantly recording the game from multiple angles and more closely than a human eye could.
- As we mentioned each game lasts 90 minutes with a 15 minute resting period in between. However, in cup games, if the score is leveled up the game can go extra time (two 15 minute halves). If the score remains same, a penalty shootout must take place.
- For a goal to be valid, the entire ball must cross the goal line.
- If a player commits fouls, he/she could receive either a yellow (warning) card or a red (dismissive) card. Two yellow cards are equal one red, after which the player leaves the game and cannot be replaced with another player (meaning the team is left with one less players-10 in total).
- Players must be dressed properly.
Essential Kit for Playing Football
Now that you do know the rules, we will provide you with information about the essential kit for playing football. Regardless of whether you are a beginner or an experienced pro, there are a few basic items which you must have in your bag. Proper equipment during playing football means only one thing – safer and more competent play.
Choosing the proper pair of shoes especially when talking about football has a crucial role not only in keeping your feet injury-free but also in maintaining the level of your skills. Quality football shoes will improve your stability, safety, and traction on the playing field. According to the surface you are playing on, there numerous types of shoes, but we will be explaining a bit more in detail further down the line of this article.
Jersey or Soccer Shirt
Another essential item in football is the jersey or the soccer shirt. Each and every player who plays professionally must have a shirt in the distinctive colors of the team. This way when a match is played, players can be easily distinguished in which team they belong to.
One exception in the team is the goalkeeper He/she must have a jersey in a different color from the teammates. Ideally, the jerseys are made from light synthetic fabric which allows the skin to breathe and keep players dry. This quick-drying properties make these fabrics and thus jerseys expensive. During training you can also wear the football bibs.
As you might have noticed, football is a rough sport with high intensity which is a direct cause for many bruises and injuries. However, since ankles and shin bones are most commonly damaged yet they are vital and can leave a player on the bench for months when injured, protecting them is essential. This is done with shin guards made of plastic, rubber, or similar material.
The shin guards are offering protection from above the cleat to below the knee. When professionally, they are worn over a pair of socks and are covered by another pair of soccer socks from above. There are numerous sizes of shin guards according to levels of protection, exposure to potential harm (defenders and goalkeepers wear larger models), and of course, the actual size of the shin.
Besides wearing a proper soccer shirt, players must also wear matching shorts as well (when talking about professionals). Shorts can be either fitting or baggy (depending on the player`s preference) and a suiting undershorts in matching color must be worn as well.
Gloves are must-have equipment for goalkeepers. Wearing a pair of Goalkeeper Gloves will allow him/her to have maximum mobility to the fingers, have a better grip, and have protection from injuries.
As we`ve mentioned above the socks are also part of each and every football player`s equipment. They are used over the shin guards, protect the feet from traction with the cleat, and are made out of synthetic durable fabric.
How to Choose Football Shoes
As we`ve previously mentioned, proper footwear during practicing and playing football is crucial hence of many aspects. If you lack the knowledge, feel overwhelmed and lost in the footwear section amongst the numerous different types of pairs of football shoes, we`ve gathered the most information on how to choose appropriate football boots.
Not according to which one are the most popular or most sold, but according to your needs.
Here are a few key points to pay attention to next time you go shopping.
If you are experienced and know what kind of model you need don’t forget to:
- Do your research
Regardless of whether you are visiting a store or purchasing a brand new pair online, one of the most important aspects is to do your homework (research).
If you are an experienced football player searching for a new football boot then we are sure you have a few models on your mind. Now, instead of simply “going for it”, do research and find out what are people saying about these models you like.
Nowadays there is plenty of information which can be found online with simple research. Focus on finding out whether or not people are content with the purchased model and if the model is true to its size.
If you have absolutely no idea where to start when it comes to purchasing your football boot, here are a few things you must consider prior to choosing one:
This is the most fundamental step when choosing soccer cleats. Remember: Nothing is more important than getting this key point right. Trust us when we say that focusing on something else such as design or popularity and neglecting this might end up with a nasty injury which will “bench you up” for a longer period. Here to follow are the five types of commonly found surfaces and accordingly the types of football boots:
- Firm Ground (FG)
Firm ground football boots are the most popular and most sold boots. The best surface to be used on are the dry or slightly wet natural grass fields where the grass is kept short. The soles on these shoes have strategically placed molded studs which allow proper disturbance of the load. However, since natural grass has a certain degree of cushioning, there is no need for a larger number of studs.
When talking about the studs, they come in numerous shapes (conical, hexagonal, bladed to square, triangular, or chevron), sizes (commonly shorter on such surface), and patters. Usually, the studs on the FG football boots a re made of plastic or hard rubber.
Some manufacturers have even gone a step beyond and created soles with mixed studs. The firm ground soles are specifically designed to provide stability and traction on natural grass soccer fields.
- Soft Ground (SG)
When talking soft ground soles and soft ground in general, we are by default talking about professional football. Soft ground is the best playing surface there is.
The deep base/ sandy layer of sand and gravel in combination with the watered and well-mowed grass offer extraordinary cushioned feel.
However, the soft grass surface can more than often be slippery and muddy. This is the main reason why the soft ground shoes, unlike the HG ones, have longer removable screwed-in metal studs (6-8) which allow good penetration and traction. Commonly you will be able to find two different variations:
- The traditional 6-stud configuration (four metal studs at the front and two in the back; slowly losing popularity because of improper distribution of weight)
- The modern mixed sole (mixed plate with interchangeable metal studs and a few molded ones which creates maximum grip)
You should know that this type of SG shoes is suitable accordingly soft ground only. Playing with them in other fields might result in damaging yourself or other people.
- Artificial Grass (AG)
Over the past few years, new artificial surfaces such as the 3G and 4G have become more and more popular thus the need for a more comfortable footwear option appeared on the market.
AG football boots are quite similar to the Firm Ground football shoes but offer increased grip and cushioning since they have to absorb the harsh impact from these artificial pitches. Once you take a look at them you will realize they have molded studs like the firm ground soleplate but with one main difference-they are hollowed out and shorter. This is what makes them lighter in weight and more compatible for such “harsher” surfaces.
- Turf (TF)
TF trainers are specifically made for playing on water or sand-based artificial grass pitches. You can easily recognize this type because of the characteristic soleplate consisted of numerous pellet-like studs made of rubber. These tiny studs will allow you to have cushioned feeling while playing on this abrasive surface.
Lastly, we must also mention the footwear designed for small-sided games (futsal or 5-a-side) which are essentially non-marking shoes specifically designed for the hard-wooden floor. Commonly they come with a flat sole which will offer you good grip and traction.
Focus on the Feel
Besides choosing the type of footwear appropriate for you based on the surface you play on, another main thing is focusing on the type of feel you want to have. Each and every pair of football shoes are designed differently thus it`s no wonder they all feel different one from another. Generally, the sensation can be divided into four different categories:
Cushioned sensation (simple and classic feel)
Control Grippy Sensation (less weight)
Lightweight Barefoot Sensation
Cushioned Sensation with good grip
Leather Upper (great protection and low chances of blisters)
Synthetic Upper (sticky and grippy feel with a lot of comfort)
Thin Synthetic Upper (makes them lightweight)
Thin Upper (Combination of comfort and control elements)
Less-aggressive stud pattern (rounded studs)
Mixed stud pattern (rounded with bladed studs)
Aggressive Stud pattern (bladed studs)
Mixed stud pattern (conical and bladed)
“Tiempo” & “Copa”
Heavier and less appealing than others
No protection at all; too much traction for some
How to choose your Football ball
Another essential piece of equipment is the football ball itself. No ball, no play. If you are a beginner, you might think there is no much to it, but you couldn’t be wrong. Playing with the right kind of ball might make all the difference in the world.
What are they made of?
Nowadays, soccer balls can be found in two variations:
- PVC Balls (made of polyvinyl carbonate; affordable; suitable for playing indoor or recreational; training footballs)
- PU Balls (made of polyurethane; used for professional matches; elite competitions and tournaments; better responsiveness and control; match footballs)
Choosing the Stitching
The stitches on the football can be done in two ways either with a machine or with hand-stitching. The machine-stitched balls offer very little when talking about performance but they are the budget-friendly option. On the contrary, the hand-stitched footballs have deep seams, great aerodynamic stability but are costly and seen on professional matches.
Now the Thermo-bonded footballs are used in the matches. The thermo bonding method means that the 32 panels are thermally glued and bonded by heat. There are no stitches, so the TB balls take up less water and keeps the original weight better when playing on a wet surface. In Fifa World Cup 2018, adidas football is used which is Thermal bonded ball with NFC Chip.
Type of Bladder
Apart from choosing the proper sizing, the outer layer, and the type of stitching, you also have to carefully choose the type of bladder (the inside chamber which is filled with air; this directly determines the bounce of the football). Bladders can be manufactured either from latex or butyl. Soft and preferred by professionals are the latex bladders (because of the soft feel; bounce properties, but they lose air quickly) while the butyl rubber bladders can hold up the air much longer which makes them suitable for training.
How to save your feet from any Injury
As we all know it, football is quite an aggressive sport with a lot of dynamics, pushing amongst players, and one-on-one duels. As if all this wasn’t enough, it can last more than 90 minutes. Ninety minutes of active game and running back and forth on a 120-yard long field. This can put a lot of strain on your muscular and skeletal system.
When talking about injuries, of course, in football are the ones on the feet. Regardless of whether they were due to overuse or some kind of trauma, there are a few things you can do to protect your feet. These few tips are crucial:
- Using protective gear such as shin guards and cleats
- Warming up before practicing/playing and stretching after each game or practice. These two are key-points when talking prevention and protection from injuries.
- Drinking plenty of water (dehydration might have disastrous effects on your overall condition)
- Maintain your fitness (nevertheless of whether its mid-season or off-season, always aim to stick with a balanced fitness program; consider constantly doing stability/mobility/ and proprioception exercises in order to strengthen up the ligaments, muscles, and the bones in your body)
- Never played injured or push through the pain (this might cause even greater damage to your body and cause a long-term trauma)
8 Health Benefits of Playing Football
Saving the best for last, we must say a word or two about the health benefits of playing football. Nevertheless of whether you are a pro or just a beginner, besides the excitement that comes with it, football has a variety of other health benefits as well.
- It will improve your cardiovascular functions (this includes stabilizing your blood pressure and heart rate)
- It will increase your bone density (loading your bones constantly while running will make them more prone to injuries and damages)
- It will reduce your body fat (football is an aerobic exercise which will burn the extra calories)
- You will get toned without noticing and increase your muscle strength and durability
- You will have better coordination and proprioception skills (improved posture)
- Your cerebral functions will improve (football will not only make you leaner but also smarter)
- Your flexibility will improve (all of the rapid movements will allow you to become more flexible)
- You will have a stress-free life (playing soccer will allow you to free up your mind and forget your worries)
Yes, all of the benefits we`ve mentioned might sound too good to be true, but we assure you they are! Football is one extraordinary sport which will activate you both physically and mentally.
Choosing when and where to run after the ball will set not only your legs on fire but also your brain! Start playing and watch how your concentration and coordination improves as you turn into a stress-free and physically lean human! Besides we`ve provided you with all of the information you ought to know.
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